I never know what to expect when we make these big trips back home to see family. How will the baby handle the 8+ hr plane ride over the ocean? Will she get into a normal-enough sleep schedule okay after a 6 hr time zone shift? Will she make the connection that even though she’d never met my father, sister, brother-in-law, or nephew before, that these were the very same people she’d chatted with through the computer (thanks, Skype) her entire life? Would this place I used to call home, that still makes my heart sing – would this place become special to her as well? And most importantly (ok, not really, ha) could Ryan and I ever enjoy enough Mexican and BBQ food during our short stay to make up for the depressing dearth of such cuisines in Europe?
It may have been quite a grand holiday out to the US, but we kept life simple. We hung out with family, enjoyed a couple Thanksgiving dinners even, went for walks out in the chilled morning mist, watched some much-missed American football, and spent as much time as I could with my sister and her family after not being able to see each other in person for over two years. Oh yes, and we had to go out to eat to order fajitas just a few times
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful and joyous Thanksgiving, full of good food, smiles, and memories to cherish.
Despite coming from a family that cooks regularly and enjoys cooking and preparing food as much as eating it at the table together, I never really learned how to cook during my childhood. I have many memories of my mom decorating some of the most elaborate birthday cakes for my sister and myself, which to this day I have yet to see cakes more beautiful. I have memories of my dad using literally every baking dish in the house to make such an array of Christmas cookies that that would bring a smile to even the Scroogiest of holiday folks, and of course, there are our many memories camping while my parents made exquisite gourmet meals with just a fire and a little gas stove, as well as just simple home cooked meals in the evening after work/school. But that’s not how I learned to cook. Instead, I learned by fumbling my way around the kitchen in college and grad school, and oh yeah, by starting this little blog here But until that point when I decided to learn to cook, I ate a lot of not-awesome stuff after moving away to college. When I was younger, I had taken my family’s cooking for granted and didn’t really understand its value until I realized that I wanted to cook myself and all of a sudden noticed that I hadn’t the slightest clue how.
I spent one summer during my undergrad doing chemistry research in NYC – my roommate and I, not having a lot of cash floating around, were determined to figure out how to cook meals for ourselves. Knowing that ingredients were important, we found markets to go to and a small cheery organic foods store nearby. Of course back then there wasn’t the kind of proliferation of food blogs as there is today, and owning not a single cookbook we just decided to experiment and see what happened – the result was a lot of meals that were barely edible as we tried to figure out what flavors worked with what, and what I consider today to be simple mundane tasks, such as how to scramble an egg, proved a near insurmountable challenge. But – we had a great time and there was a thrill of figuring out how to taste and enjoy food, and a sense of pride in calling a dish our own.
And it was really not until after that New York summer that I was determined to figure out cooking – that fall I started calling my parents a lot more asking questions, and by the time I went on to grad school I had half of my parents’ cookbook collection in my little 500 sq ft. apartment – Marcella Hazan, Gourmet, the entire Cooking with Bon Appetit series that I think was as old as I was, Joy of Cooking, Betty Crocker, some family/church recipe compilations, and my favorite instructional magazine series, Cuisine at Home. Learning to cook became something that Ryan and I enjoyed doing together when we started dating, and that love of preparing food has remained a solid foundation in our daily lives ever since.
So when I heard that the Masterchef TV reality show had a “junior” competition, I was really curious to see what these contestants would be preparing, and the snippets I saw totally blew me away – here were mere children, some not even middle school aged, pulling out dishes that I’ve seen few adults be able to master. I was in complete awe, and I’ll admit also a bit envious that these kids had such a profound relationship with food and cooking at such a young age. On the TV show, one of the contestants, a firey personality named Jack, had been eliminated in the finale after presenting what looked to be a gorgeous prosciutto wrapped chicken roulade which he had stuffed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. At that moment I thought to myself, “wow, it really says something to the talent of these contestants that such a beautiful flawless plate (at least to my untrained eyes) was grounds for elimination.
I hope to teach baby girl a love for cooking early on. Right now she is a bit small yet, but she is intensely curious about what exactly we are doing spending so much time standing in the kitchen every day. I let her help me pick up veggies and put them in a bowl, or one of us will hold her up so she can watch the other prepping and cooking food. “Here, this is spinach,” and I hand her a leaf. I eat one first (because she’ll try anything that she sees her Mama eating), and encourage her to do the same. She picks it up, tastes it, and spits it out smiling. So we haven’t quite gotten up to leafy greens yet – but once cooked with mushrooms, as long as I remove the spinach stems first, she seems to be a big fan. I figure – and now I’m winging this as much as any other first time parent, so I have no authority here – that letting her be a part of the cooking process as much as possible will help her develop a healthy appreciation for the food we eat. Will she be on national television one day whipping out Michelin-star quality dishes for all to see? Who knows. But I at least hope that she decides that she likes to spend time in the kitchen, and tasting a variety of foods.
For the first time in four years (i.e. the first time since I’ve been in Switzerland), we’ve actually had what this New Englander could call an Autumn. There has been some actual color on the leaves, Fall temperatures, and that invigorating brisk chill in the air while the sun lights up the color of the landscape. We’ve been enjoying it by taking long strolls down by the lake shore, because I’ll never get tired of seeing the rays of the sun shining through the clouds down onto Lake Geneva.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a licensed medical professional NOR am I a certified nutritionist. This site is NOT meant to be used in place of medical advice. You are responsible for your own consumption of foods. Consult a licensed medical professional before making any dietary changes. Contact manufacturer to inquire about allergy risks in specific food products.